The government will establish 12 Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Centres in strategic camps to address the issues faced by children of the national workforce workers.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that Ministry of Works and Human Settlement has identified 12 areas on the north east-west highway. “The idea is that in each of the strategic area, there will be an ECCD centre. The first strategic camp will be established soon.”

Of the areas, five will be in Mongar, three each in Bumthang and Wangdue, and one in Trongsa.

Prime Minister added that both rural and urban areas have difficulties and challenges related to children. “For our national workforce workers and roadside workers, the situation is more difficult because of the nature of the location of the camps, which are dispersed.”

He added that establishing ECCD centres, however, would be expensive.

There are 2,234 national workforce workers under nine regional offices in Bhutan.

Education Minister Norbu Wangchuk said that the government understands its importance and would attempt to provide ECCD services to every child.

“Prime Minister has asked the education ministry to explore how the government could establish one ECCD centre in every chiwog,” he said. “It is a huge challenge because of the scattered settlements but it is doable because it is just 13,000 children we are talking about.”

He added that too often the learning outcomes of a child is not just the consequence of what happens in school but the consequences of other factors that happen beyond the schools and classrooms. “Child and psychology experts say that what happens to a child until the age of eight is almost irreversible.”

There are about 300 ECCD centres in the country today.

Phurpa Lhamo